ANC 6B Discusses New Two-Story Building for 12th Street

ANC 6B Report

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6B) met virtually via WebEx Oct. 11. Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Brian Ready (6B03), Kristen Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06), Edward Ryder (6B07), Peter Wright (6B08), Alison Horn (6B09) and Denise Krepp (6B10) were all in attendance.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B spent much of their meeting Oct. 11 discussing plans for a new two-story residential building at 117 12th Street SE.

After significant deliberation and discussion, commissioners voted unanimously to support both the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) applications. But they included some conditions in their letter.

The project, a concept design for the construction of a new two-story residential building on the alley, requires review for historic preservation and several special exceptions related to zoning. Those include a special exception to raze an existing shed and construct a new, detached, two-story principal dwelling unit in the RF-1 zone.

In zoning, the applicant is seeking two and a half feet of zoning relief in the alley for garage parking. Marty Sullivan, an attorney representing the applicant, said he was not concerned about the alley as the BZA’s main concerns center around “privacy, character, scale and pattern” of the structure.

Sullivan said the use of the entire 15-foot alley to get into the garage “does not substantially negatively affect the use of any neighboring property.” Five feet is part of Sladen’s Park and so property of the District, he pointed out. “It was obviously intentionally dedicated to the use as an alley, because it’s finished in brick by the city, and it’s curbed at the park, so it wasn’t an accident that this five-foot setback was provided,” Sullivan said. “It seems to me it was planned and intentional in order to make the alley wider. The fact that they never changed the official ownership from District of Columbia owned park to District of Columbia owned alley doesn’t change the actual situation.”

Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06) acknowledged the current utility of the alley by its users, but emphasized that, as far as zoning is concerned, the alley is still only 10 feet.

“It’s a 10-foot alley that functions as a 15-foot alley,” Holman said. “I understand we’re parsing, we’re being semantic here, but feet matter (in) zoning and everything. Permits have been denied because [something is] one foot over a line.”

The representatives for the applicant emphasized their goal of providing housing where housing has not been available previously and emphasized the letters of support received from community members. Margaret Mook, a community member, said that while she was supportive of parts of the project, she had concerns about the windows in the proposed new unit.

“For me, the larger windows don’t complement the historic district and it gives kind of a fishbowl feeling,” Mook said. “I believe, when you look at your renderings of the three-dimensional model, you can see quite a bit of the apartment, and I think that with a solar gain from south and west windows, and we have those on our house, it can be brutal. Privacy issues at all times, day and night.”

Acknowledging the many concerns from individuals and commissioners, Holtzman underscored his support for the project calling it a “very positive thing for the neighborhood.” He made the motion to support both the HPRB and BZA applications with the conditions that the applicant keep neighbors informed regarding the possibility of a buried oil tank on the property and what steps the applicant is going to take if one is actually found. Additionally, support is contingent upon the five feet of the 15-foot alley remaining part of the title of the park belonging to the District of Columbia.

Commissioner Allison Horn (6B09) echoed Holtzman and emphasized her appreciation for the changes the applicant has already made in the project. “It was nice to see kind of the spirit of compromise in terms of the concessions that they made in their design,” Horn said.

The commission voted unanimously to:

  • Adopt the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Committee recommendation to withdraw protest and support, with a signed Settlement Agreement, for Emilie’s LLC at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
  • Adopt the ABC Committee recommendation to support an amendment to the current settlement agreement for a class C restaurant license for Rose’s at Home at 721 Eighth St. SE.
  • Approve the renewal and with the existing settlement agreement for a class C tavern license for Barrel at 613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
  • Approve the class C tavern license renewal with a sidewalk endorsement for The Eastern at 360 Seventh St. SE.
  • Approve the fiscal year 2022 Fourth Quarter and fiscal year 2023 budgets for ANC 6B.
  • Appoint Whitney Smith to the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Committee.

Other Matters:

  • Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) spoke about public safety concerns related to an uptick in the District’s crime. Krepp expressed frustration with the DC Council’s inaction on violence in the streets saying “we have city council members that aren’t holding hearings, we have city council members that aren’t doing anything. We’re now left on our own as the bullets are flying. I’m frustrated.” Krepp emphasized a need to “look for solutions” saying crime continues to be “out of control” in her single member District and in the District more generally.
  • Commissioner Steve Holtzman (6B05) provided an update on the Eastern Market Metro Park rodent control work. Holtzman said that while rodent control had been onsite and spread a large amount of tracing powder, he found about half a dozen areas that were not covered. He plans to reach out to them regarding getting coverage for these areas.

The next full meeting of ANC 6B is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9. Find detais at anc6b.org.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.